Groundtastic – Scots Scene – Autumn 2007

Groundtastic – Scots Scene – Autumn 2007

I watch a lot of YouTube videos in bed at night in an attempt to lull myself to sleep. I have mixed results with this tactic. It sometimes works if I am in the mood to listen to some soft rock, but most of the time I opt for punk rock bands of the 70’s or Britpop anthems from the 90’s.These tracks only serve to energise me, but last night I found myself having to make the conscious decision to turn off my tv in the wee small hours of the morning. I had been watching the vlogs of Footy Adventures, which I would heartily recommend to those of you who are interested in football stadiums and architecture.

I stopped watching one video where our knowledgeable guide was visiting all 42 football league grounds in Scotland. I did not want to switch this off, but if anyone needs their beauty sleep then it is me.

These vlogs reminded me of a series of articles that I was sharing with my blog readers, back in 2015/16.

Between 2002-2008 I was Scottish Correspondent for the wonderfully professional Groundtastic – The Football Grounds Magazine. I can not speak highly enough of the editors and contributors to this glossy magazine that is jam-packed with interesting information and photographic gold.

I haven’t been a subscriber to the magazine since my marriage imploded in 2008 and I was forced to leave Scotland. Since then my dexterity has deteriorated to such an extent that I now find it impossible to simply thumb through a magazine.

Imagine my excitement then when I visited the Groundtastic website to discover that they now have a digital edition available   I’ll definitely be subscribing.

Anyway, over the next few months I will be sharing a number of articles that I penned during my time North of the Border, including my regular Scots Scene news round-up of potential football ground developments and improvements. The following is from Summer 2007 and it will be evident to ground enthusiasts and football fans just how much has changed from the era in which it was written…

To view the previous Scots Scene articles that I wrote in Winter 2002, Spring 2003, Summer 2003, Autumn 2003, Winter 2003, Spring 2004, Summer 2004 , Autumn 2004, Winter 2004, Spring 2005, Summer 2005, Autumn 2005, Winter 2005, Spring 2006, Summer 2006, Autumn 2006, Winter 2006 and Spring 2007, click here.

Enjoy a short step back in time.


 CELTIC are to pay KILMARNOCK a total of £20,000 for damage caused to seats during the Rugby Park fixture when Gordon Strachan’s side clinched the SPL title last April. About 1,500 seats were broken in the Chadwick and Moffat stands. Celtic also paid for damage caused by some fans at Rugby Park in 2004. The SPL then introduced rules to ensure clubs responsible for damage at away grounds paid for the repairs. The contractors aim to have Rugby Park fully repaired for the beginning of the 2007-08 season. 

FALKIRK have unveiled plans to build two new stands to complete their ground. News of the work on the south and east stands came as the company which owns Westfield was given another two years to start repaying its £6million debts. The rescue deal was struck when Falkirk Community Stadium Limited (FCSL) unveiled a series of proposals including the club erecting a third stand on the south side of the ground and bringing in developers to start work on an east stand. That will be in addition to building a hotel and fitness centre either side of the north stand and offices at the other end of the pitch. The agreement also allows FCSL to phase repayments of an additional £500,000 loan to the council between now and 2012. The company first negotiated a rescue package when it ran into cash-flow problems two years ago. It was agreed then that repayments on its borrowing of just over £5m would be met by the council until December this year. The debt is now nearer £6m but the company is still not earning enough to start paying it back. However, council chief executive Mary Pitcaithly said the involvement of developers Terrace Hill could change that dramatically while also outlining the difficulties facing the council in considering how the debt should be handled.  She said: “There is a risk involved in the council agreeing to the debt reprofiling requests that the debt is not repaid or not repaid in full. Equally, there is a risk an inflexible approach brings the company into immediate financial difficulty – putting at risk the entire venture.” The request for a further two years to make the repayments was deemed justifiable by the council’s finance director Alex Jannetta. Council leader Linda Gow said: “The council went into this as partners to deliver not only a ground for Falkirk FC to play on but a top-class facility for the community to enjoy. However, the money being used belongs to the people of Falkirk and there is no way developing the stadium can become a tax burden on our citizens.”

GRETNA have kicked off the 2007-08 season playing their ‘home’ games at Motherwell’s Fir Park ground despite the protests of Dunfermline Athletic and St Mirren who challenged their right to be promoted to the SPL at all. Both clubs wrote to league chiefs arguing Gretna had failed to provide assurances they would create a 6,000 capacity stadium by 2008/09 but the complaints were rejected as SPL secretary Ian Blair announced that Gretna have until 31 March, 2008 to satisfy the league that they will be playing in an SPL compliant stadium for season 2008/09. Gretna chief executive Graeme Muir said he was confident Gretna would be able to move to a refurbished Raydale Park in the future. “We are fully aware of the criteria for March 2008,” he said. “If we don’t fulfil that then there might be problems but knowing Gretna I think we will. We plan to have 6,000 seats by August of next year. Planning permission is there for the stadium at Raydale Park.”

Meanwhile, Muir is optimistic that ground sharing with Motherwell will be a success. Fans of the Black & Whites face a 130-mile round-trip to Lanarkshire to watch ‘home’ games in the SPL. And Muir told BBC Sport: “We were forced into this by the rapid success of our first-team and we need to get back down to Gretna within a year. But ground sharing has some distinct advantages and we have a great working relationship with Motherwell.” The club averaged home gates of just under 1500 in Division One last season but Muir remains optimistic. “The travelling is obviously a disadvantage. But, overall, it works out well for Gretna,” he added. “If we had a 6,000 seat stadium in Gretna, we would allocate 3,000 to the likes of Celtic and Rangers. But these clubs can have as many as they want at Fir Park.”

A man has been sentenced to 200 hours’ community sentence and a three-year football match ban after staging a sectarian protest at Ibrox. Sean Gallagher ran on to the pitch during a European match between RANGERS and Maccabi Haifi, last November. Midway through the game’s second-half, Gallagher – draped in a Palestinian flag and wearing a Pope T-shirt – jumped out of the 45,000-strong crowd and ran onto the pitch. He managed to get to the goal at the Broomloan Road end where he tried to handcuff himself to a post. Gallagher shouted “Tiocfaidh Ar La”, meaning “Our Day Will Come” – the unofficial slogan of the IRA – at Rangers fans. They were “extremely annoyed” and had to be restrained. The game was eventually restarted after a four-minute delay. Earlier in court, Ross Yuill, defending, said Gallagher had been forced to move from his home in the city’s Woodlands due to death threats.


ALLOA ATHLETIC have installed an artificial surface at Recreation Park. Work started on June 3 at the ground and was due to be completed in time for the start of the new season. “This is an exciting opportunity for the club to work with the community to further build the links which will see us secure our future financial position and hopefully grow our fan base,” said a statement on the Alloa website. “The club can also confirm that we will be financing the pitch ourselves with no grant funding. We are satisfied that the business case for this decision will justify our action and believe that this will also assist our football development, with our five youth teams having the opportunity to access the new pitch with an outstanding playing surface.” Third Division Stenhousemuir have installed a similar surface and offered their ground to Alloa for pre-season training and practice matches.

ALBION ROVERS have praised the community response to a sharp rise in vandalism at Cliftonhill. The Third Division outfit suffered thousands of pounds worth of damage after seats were ripped up and the stadium was sprayed with graffiti. But director Pat Rolink said the local community were helping. Local companies have offered to repair the damage for free – and protect the ground from further vandalism. “You can imagine how I felt when I got to the ground and more seats were damaged, and there was further graffiti on the walls,” Rolink told the Daily Record. “It looked even bleaker than before, but I’ve been inundated with calls that have given me hope and faith in people also. People have really got off their backsides to help us. It has been fantastic.” Rolink had previously said that the Coatbridge community risked losing their football club, as it could not sustain the repairs. Replacing the broken seats alone would have cost £4,000. But a statement on the club website added: “Alfred McAlpine is to install CCTV cameras, Swift Cars have pledged £1,000, the stewarding company employed on match days are sending in guards with dogs to patrol the ground. ROK of Motherwell pledged to help out with clearing up, painting and other things. They have already turned up at Cliftonhill and made things much more presentable.”


Details of Glasgow’s plans to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games have been unveiled.  Glasgow has promised a “compact” and “green” Games, which would make the most of its existing sports venues. Celtic Park would be the venue for the opening ceremony and Hampden would be transformed into an athletics arena. Rangers’ ground at Ibrox has been named as the venue for the seven-a-side rugby tournament. The cost of the Games is estimated at £288m, with 80% paid for by the Scottish Executive and the remainder funded by the local council. Organisers also said that the Games would see significant brownfield sites in Glasgow brought back into constructive use. Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dr Lesley Sawers welcomed the next stage in the bid. She said: “The handing over of the official 2014 bid document suddenly brings the reality of the Commonwealth Games so much closer. Anyone who reads this document can be left in no doubt that, although the Games are seven years away, we are well advanced in our preparations – both in terms of organisation and of the actual venues that will be needed.” A Games village would also be created with more than 1,000 homes built on the banks of the Clyde at Dalmarnock, which would eventually be available for sale and social housing after the event. A final decision on the 2014 Games venue will be made in November.

The Scottish Premier League is seeking a meeting with ministers to discuss a plan for lifting the ban on alcohol sales in Scottish football grounds. SPL secretary Ian Blair said he would raise the issue with the Scottish Executive at the earliest opportunity. The call comes after the ban was reviewed as part of a trial for certain rugby internationals at Murrayfield. Mr Blair said he was eager to see a similar pilot up and running before the end of the coming football season. A ban on the sale of alcohol in sports grounds was introduced after violent clashes during the 1980 Scottish Cup Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park in Glasgow. Blair claims there is little reason for bars at Hampden to be open for pop concerts but closed for football games. He said: “Essentially, the message that we are trying to get across is that we have come a long way since the ban was first introduced. Given the changes that we have seen, we think it reasonable to see a pilot put in place. We will be seeking some sort of trial to begin as soon as possible. I would ideally like to see that happening before the end of the upcoming season.” Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has said that he is not opposed to the idea in principle, previously stating: “I have made clear that I will consider any representations made by football clubs as long as they have discussed the issue with the police and licensing boards and have their support.” Scottish Football Association chief executive Gordon Smith said he was also in favour of challenging the current ban. But Mr Smith has warned that it was important to assess whether the issues that led to the drinking ban still existed.

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